Thank goodness I learned touch typing back some ten years ago, otherwise high school and college would have been a very painful experience.  Much, in fact, like the experience I’m having typing in Korean right now.

For the past year, I’ve been using the “soft” (i.e. onscreen) Korean keyboard that comes with the Microsoft Windows IME – so basically, using my mouse to input each Hangeul character.  It’s slow and unnecessarily abusive to my poor index finger.  My netbook, which runs Windows 7, doesn’t come with the soft keyboard so I finally have to face the harsh reality of learning how to type again.  This time, in Korean.

A while back, I made my own Hangeul stickers and had them on my keyboard for a couple months before they all started to fall off.  That gave me a general idea of where all the characters are but unfortunately my speed and accuracy are nowhere near that of my English typing ability.  This clearly has to change or I’ll start to hate typing in Korean, which means I’ll start to hate looking up stuff on the internet on my own, which means I won’t study as much.  And that’s bad. >:(

But look what I found while browsing through the kids section at Daum!

 타자연습 (click!)

It’s your standard typing game.  You can chose to work on different sets of keys, an entire row, and/or simple words.

Individual characters are fine but typing full words are still really hard for me.

The only criticism I have is that game doesn’t actually teach you which fingers go with which key (i.e. pinky finger for ㅂ ㅁ ㅋ ) but if you are familiar with QWERTY keyboarding in English, it shouldn’t be a problem to carry that over to Korean.

I still have a long way to go till I can comfortably type in Korean but I guess practice makes perfect.  One more thing to add to my ever growing list of Things to Accomplish in 2012. ^^

Skype call in Korean

It’s been nearly two years since I first started learning Korean.  I’m not sure if I’ve spent this time effectively enough or if I even have anything to show for it – all I know is that I’ve enjoyed every single step I’ve taken to get to where I am today.  I’m really grateful for all my fellow bloggers and friends who’ve encouraged and helped me in every way.  Hope you are all having a very happy holiday season.

This week, for the first time since I started learning Korean, I spoke in Korean to a Korean friend of mine through skype.  Usually, I’m pretty paranoid about giving out my contact information and/or talking to people I’ve just met over the internet but I had met this particular friend through me2day over the summer and we’d talked on and off.  He seemed quite nice!  He usually commented on all of my me2day posts, engaged me in conversation, and always offered to help me whenever I had questions about Korean.  I learned about 수능 through him as well, since he was a 수험생 this year.  After he got a smart phone, we chatted a lot with each other using Kakaotalk, which really helped me think on my feet!

Anyway, we’d been talking about skyping for a while and he kept saying that we should do it at a time that was convenient for me but, to be honest, I was incredibly nervous and so I kept blowing him off.  Until finally!  I decided I should just do it.  As much as I think reading+writing+listening+speaking are all important components of language learning, speaking has always been something I disregarded because there was just no opportunity at all to practice speaking in Korean where I live.  I didn’t know a single Korean person and all my Korean-American friends were more comfortable speaking in English.

But I’m so glad I took this opportunity to skype with my friend even though I was so so so incredibly nervous at first.  For the first five minutes, all I could keep saying was “어 진짜 어색해 ㅠㅠ” over and over again.

To that my friend replied, “누나 진짜 한국사람 같아!”

Heh.  Well, that was pretty generous of him but it gave me a lot of confidence.

Frankly speaking, my spoken Korean is very BAD.  Like, horrible.  According to my level of experience, I’d say my writing is above average but my speaking is way below average.  That being said, my friend spoke to me entirely in Korean and I managed to speak in a weird mix of Korean and English ( 영어+한국어  = 영국어?) and I consider that somewhat of an accomplishment.  Haha.

The entire experience was kind of surreal because, for the first time, I was actually saying all these words that I’d read and used in writing and utilizing them in a conversation.  I’m quite proud of my listening abilities too, since I was able to understand pretty much everything my friend was saying to me.

I really do have to give most of the credit to my friend, though.  Despite being much younger than me, he seemed to know exactly how to hold a conversation at my level of Korean.  If I couldn’t understand a question, he rephrased it using easier words.  If I didn’t know a word, he’d define it for me using really simple Korean.  We talked about a lot of different things – really basic stuff like what we did that day, our hobbies, music, dramas, language in general (he kept saying he was envious of my English pronunciation haha), how to improve my Korean and his English.  The amazing thing is that he understood what I was trying to say even if I screwed up the grammar or the word.

We managed to talk for an entire hour like that.

Honestly, I was completely like “신기해!!” the entire time.  I remember feeling the same way when I left a comment in Korean for the first time ever at TTMIK and Hyunwoo replied back in Korean.  The fact that I am getting better and better at interacting with others in both written and spoken Korean is somehow slowly stripping the language of its “foreignness” to me – and that’s a really great feeling.

Looking forward to speaking more Korean in the new year. ^^

The Language Fossils Buried in Every Cell of Your Body

Just stopping by to say that I am very much alive and still learning Korean despite the horrors rigors of graduate school.  How is everyone doing? :)

A couple months ago, I stumbled across this interesting article in Discover Magazine that I think is worth sharing:

The Language Fossils Buried in Every Cell of Your Body (click to read the article).

The article is about a certain gene known as FOXP2 which may, at least in part, be involved in the acquisition of language in humans.  As the article states:

FOXP2 didn’t give us language all on its own. In our brains, it acts more like a foreman, handing out instructions to at least 84 target genes in the developing basal ganglia. Even this full crew of genes explains language only in part, because the ability to form words is just the beginning. Then comes the higher level of complexity: combining words according to rules of grammar to give them meaning.

First of all, this is exciting.  I don’t care if you don’t like science but the idea that scientists have identified at least one gene (even if it’s not THE gene.  Chances are THE gene doesn’t even exist) that may be involved in a process as complex as language is kind of mind-blowing.  Humans seem to be the only species that have language and some have even gone so far as to speculate that language and communication is our “innate” ability, so identifying any kind of genetic connection to language is the first step in figuring out the evolution of language.

Obviously it’s difficult to come up with… um… ethical models to study language at the genetic level.  But the fact that certain individuals with language defects have very specific mutations in FOXP2 is fairly convincing evidence that the gene is one of the key orchestrators of language acquisition.  Personally, I’m not sure how much I believe in the existence of a single “grammar” gene or a “syntax” gene, as the article mentions in its concluding sentence, but I’ll have to read up more on the actual neuroscience behind speech and language before I form a solid opinion about it.  It’s an interesting thought though.  And also, mutations don’t necessarily have to have negative effects so it would be interesting to see if polyglots have any beneficial mutations in the FOXP2 gene and/or differential growth and activation of the neurons under its control.  Then again, scientists like to attribute everything and anything to genetics these days but that’s a debate I’d rather not get into.

Wheeeee!  Cool, cool stuff.  And extra cool because the FOXP2 protein is actually part of the same family of DNA regulator proteins as FOXP3, which I’ve been reading a lot about in my classes.  Interestingly, FOXP3 is completely unrelated to language – it’s a key regulator of a special type of immune cells in your body.  But I digress.

Thoughts on the “language gene” anyone?


Where O where has the time gone?  In the one-and-a-half months that I’ve been at Stanford, I have come to terms with the harsh reality that graduate school leaves you little to no time for hobbies.  BUT.  I refuse to let that be an excuse for my lack of Korean studying.  If you’re passionate enough about something, you will find time for it, no matter how busy you are.

However, as per usual, I’ve reverted back to my lackadaisical methods of “studying” Korean – that is, by watching more things without subtitles, reading more primary material, and writing a bit here and there.  Lately, though, I’ve found a new way to improve my Korean listening skills – 엿듣기 (eavesdropping)!

There are A LOT of Korean folks here at Stanford and, when I’m on the bus, I often catch a few words of Korean being spoken here and there.  So far, I’ve eavesdropped on conversations about wifi speed, moving to a different apartment, an internship at HP, home towns, and a couple other things.  I guess if these conversations are within earshot, it’s not really eavesdropping, is it?  Heh.

Thus far, I’ve only really gotten listening practice from dramas, variety shows, and TTMIK ‘s 이야기 series so it was definitely a welcome change to hear some natural Korean conversation that wasn’t entirely subject-oriented.  Of course, that made it harder to follow since the topics were shifting naturally through the course of the conversation.  I realized that my listening skills are really not that good at all haha.  It’s definitely motivating me to study even harder. :)



It’s been a week since I’ve moved to California and (unsurprisingly) I haven’t had time to study Korean AT ALL.  We’ve been busy with three straight days of orientation from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM and, in the meantime, I’ve been trying to adjust to living on my own for the first time ever.  This is a really emotionally and mentally stressful time for me for various reasons, but I’m still trying to go about doing things, 싱글벙글 웃으면서!

싱글벙글 is such a cute word, I can’t help but smile when I say it to myself – which is appropriate, considering that it means to do something “smilingly” or “with a broad smile.”

Hope you’re all having a great day!


As you can see, I changed my theme.  I love the simplicity and color palette of this theme much better than my last one (which honestly looked too cold).  The font size is a bit big and maybe there’s a way to change that but I’m too lazy and computer illiterate to figure it out.  At least it’s easy on the eyes?  Well, in any case, I think I’ll stick with this theme… at least for a few months or so.

I guess this is a timely change because the new theme is accompanying the start of a new chapter in my life.  This Thursday I will be flying off to San Francisco, settling in my own little studio apartment, and embarking on graduate school life at Stanford.  Needless to say, I am incredibly nervous – but excited at the same time.  So many things are changing so quickly for me and, for a person who doesn’t handle change very easily and who prefers routine to adventure, things are going to be very tough for the next few weeks.

Korean is the only constant in my life these days.  No matter how busy I am, I make sure to involve myself in something related to Korean every single day, even if it’s just listening to Korean music.  (Though, to be honest, I’m kind of losing interest in K-pop these days.  Does anyone know of any good K-rock bands or indie bands?  I’m always on the lookout for new music.)

I’ve been telling myself this over and over again but I’ll say it again.  Passive studying (e.g. watching K-dramas, listening to Korean music) isn’t going to cut it for long because I feel myself plateauing already.  I need to challenge myself in a more active, productive way but, at the same time, I’m also afraid to move on to more difficult areas of Korean.  Maybe I’m not looking at the right resources, but I always find material that’s either too easy for me (as in, I either understand everything or only need to look up a few words here and there to understand everything) or so difficult that it’s discouraging.

I think my transition to more challenging levels of Korean is just as rough and uncomfortable as my transition from dependent to independent life.  Maybe that’s part of the reason I’ve been avoiding the books.  Waaah.

Anyway, I hope to get back to blogging once I’m settled in California.  Till then~ to my lovely friends and readers, take care!  (P.S. Don’t lurk!  I’m a nice person.  You should talk to me. ;A;)

Audio Post #1

Jeannie’s audio post inspired me to make a recording of myself reading Korean as well.  In this recording, I’m reading a couple paragraphs from the first chapter of BIGBANG’s autobiography, 세상에 너를 소리 쳐, which is also the first Korean book I purchased.  (The narrator of this particular passage is G-Dragon.)  I do understand everything I’m reading but intonation and pronunciation are still quite difficult for me.  What do you guys think? ^^  I already know I mispronounced 흘러나오고 as 흘러너오고  >_<.